Contact: Meg Henderson
STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State will host the Disaster Resilient Food Energy Water Systems workshop this Wednesday [June 29] at The Mill at MSU.
A first-of-its-kind event, DIRE-FEWS is hosted by a team of researchers from the university’s Department of Sustainable Bioproducts in the College of Forest Resources and funded by a National Science Foundation Sustainable Regional Systems planning grant. It will include a panel of speakers, Lunch and Learn, and breakout and tutorial sessions. Registration is $25 and available at https://gfrc.tamu.edu/dire-fews/education-and-workforce-development/workshops/.
Beth Stokes, MSU associate professor and scientist in MSU’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center, said the program is one of three workshops focusing on improving resiliency in Gulf South communities, with the others held this summer at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas.
Stokes is collaborating with scientists from the two universities as well as others from The Nature Conservancy, RAPID Manufacturing Institute, Argonne National Laboratory and the Observer Research Foundation to create the workshop series.
She encouraged anyone involved in local businesses, disaster relief groups, community support organizations and academics to attend.
“Our team is doing convergent research, which means reaching out to communities and listening to stakeholders,” Stokes said. “It’s critical to engage with the people who will be impacted by the research before the research starts. We’re trying to reach as many people as we can.”
Last year, Coastal Resilience Program Manager Debalina Sengupta with the NOAA Sea Grant at Texas A&M University contacted Stokes with the idea. Sengupta explained that in her home country of India, the Observer Research Foundation is having positive impacts in communities developing practical methods for increasing resiliency.
“As we’ve seen large-scale natural disasters—floods, tornadoes and hurricanes—increase in the Gulf South over the last 10-15 years, Dr. Sengupta had the insight that our communities would benefit from similar programs modified for an American system,” Stokes said.
This conversation led to a collaborative planning of events to bring scientists, disaster specialists and community stakeholders together to discuss challenges and potential solutions to these natural disasters.
“There are challenges in reaching our rural communities after an event. Resiliency programs would give them the support before they need it,” Stokes said.
A series of related webinars also can be found at https://gfrc.tamu.edu/dire-fews/education-and-workforce-development/webinars/.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.